The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

One light globe dangled from the ceiling and the room

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Unformatted text preview: reak away.” The man was wrong. A gargantuan brown-shirted official informed the group that there was one lap to go. He certainly wasn’t suffering under the ration system. He called out as the lead pack crossed the line, and it was not the second boy who accelerated, but the fourth. And he was two hundred meters early. Rudy ran. He did not look back at any stage. Like an elastic rope, he lengthened his lead until any thought of someone else winning snapped altogether. He took himself around the track as the three runners behind him fought each other for the scraps. In the homestretch, there was nothing but blond hair and space, and when he crossed the line, he didn’t stop. He didn’t raise his arm. There wasn’t even a bent-over relief. He simply walked another twenty meters and eventually looked over his shoulder to watch the others cross the line. On the way back to his family, he met first with his leaders and then with Franz Deutscher. They both nodded. “Steiner.” “Deutscher.” “Looks like all those laps I gave you paid off, huh?” “Looks like it.” He would not smile until he’d won all four. A POINT FOR LATER REFERENCE Not only was Rudy recognized now as a good school student. He was a gifted athlete, too. For Liesel, there was the 400. She finished seventh, then fourth in her heat of the 200. All she could see up ahead were the hamstrings and bobbing ponytails of the girls in front. In the long jump, she enjoyed the sand packed around her feet more than any distance, and the shot put wasn’t her greatest moment, either. This day, she realized, was Rudy’s. In the 400 final, he led from the backstretch to the end, and he won the 200 only narrowly. “You getting tired?” Liesel asked him. It was early afternoon by then. “Of course not.” He was breathing heavily and stretching his calves. “What are you talking about, Saumensch? What the hell would you know?” When the heats of the 100 were called, he rose slowly to his feet and followed the trail of adolescents toward the track. Liesel went after h...
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